You probably never doubted that your life as an attorney would be stressful. From the earliest days of law school, you likely realized just how much stress the career involved. After all, your work consists of helping people through some of the most traumatic moments of their lives, and it is not uncommon for a lawyer to carry many emotional burdens while working a case.
Unfortunately, there are not always positive outlets for that stress. If you are like many in your profession, you may have learned that alcohol is a quick and accessible way to relieve stress. Sadly, it is also a dangerous choice.
Why are attorneys so susceptible to addiction?
The abuse of alcohol and other addictive substances is common among people in high-stress jobs. Studies show that about one third of attorneys struggle with alcohol. You may have found that you could continue to perform well at first, but eventually, your alcohol consumption began to interfere, first with your personal relationships, then with your ability to practice law effectively. Your clients or co-workers may have noticed the difference. You may even be facing a disciplinary hearing related to your alcohol use.
It may surprise you to learn that lawyers are among those who are most vulnerable to addictions to alcohol or other substances. The reasons most commonly cited for addiction among attorneys include the following:
- Alcohol is frequently part of the culture of the practice of law, where socializing after hours, celebrating victories and drinking on the job are acceptable behaviors.
- You and your colleagues may suffer from secondary traumatic stress, which occurs when you learn the intimate and shocking details of your clients’ history.
- The life of an attorney is often solitary, and your limited opportunities to socialize involve the consumption of alcohol.
- Alcohol abuse in attorneys often begins in law school, and you may recall seeking relief from the pressures of exams and the loneliness of competition by turning to alcohol.
- You may also suffer with depression, as do almost 40 percent of criminal defense attorneys, which can exacerbate alcohol dependency.
Seeking the source of your alcohol addiction is a critical part of your recovery. However, your alcohol use may have prevented you from giving effective counsel. Therefore, you may also be dealing with administrative issues that can place your career in jeopardy. You do not have to face this alone. A compassionate attorney can assist you as you fight to protect your future.